The NZ Institute for Cannabis Education, Research and Development based in Christchurch, says a new study released by the University of Bath, underscores the importance of introducing standard units for cannabis.
Cannabis academic and expert, Whakamana’s Abe Gray, says the findings add to a growing body of evidence that indicates the health effects of cannabis are related to dose-levels. He supports the researchers calling for the introduction and prescribing of standard units for cannabis, as managing dose levels is absolutely key.
“Micro-dosing is a fundamental part of ensuring efficacy related to the health benefits of using cannabis,” he says. “Finding the right amount of THC for a person will be impossible if the product doesn't contain standard dose information, and they can only estimate the actual amount of THC in it. That’s why Whakamana’s focus is on education, research and development so that people can make informed decisions based on robust information. We aim to be a source of credible information supported by evidence-based research and findings.”
This work by Bath University reiterating that identifying and communicating recommended unit levels of THC (the psychoactive component in Cannabis), is important for people to make those informed decisions,” he says.
The study says identifying and promoting recommended standard units related to THC, which has been commonplace for alcohol for many years – has never been adopted in health guidelines for cannabis. This is despite widespread use of the drug around the world and increasing moves to legalise its sale for recreational consumption. The researchers, from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath with collaborators from King’s College London, UCL and the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, suggest that more needs to be done to make users aware of the dose of ‘THC’ – the drug’s main psychoactive component.
They suggest a unit level should be set at 5mg of THC.
Gray says education and dissemination of robust research and information is critical, particularly in New Zealand where a 2020 referendum could see the landscape change regarding cannabis use in this country.
“Let’s be ready,” he says. “The fact that cannabis use has been hidden and considered a bit seedy has not helped to position this plant as the incredible living organism it is - from a hemp perspective, from a health perspective and everything in-between.”
As far as the risks go, of people consuming / taking too much THC, lead author of the Psychological Medicine Study Sam Craft from King’s College London said:
These risks though might be modifiable and we believe that the introduction of a unit system would help both users and healthcare professionals by providing clearer information on the types of cannabis products they consume and their strength.”
The publication coincides with a second study from the team, also published today in the journal Psychological Medicine which examined the relationship between using various cannabis products and key health outcomes in over 55,000 people across 175 countries.
Using the Global Drug Survey, consumers were asked about the types of cannabis products they used as well as the severity of problems relating to cannabis use including on their mental health. The results showed that people varied widely in the combination of different cannabis products they used, and that these were strongly associated with particular health outcomes. For example, those who typically used higher THC forms of cannabis such as ‘sinsemilla’ and/or ‘hashish’ experienced more severe problems than those using traditional herbal products with lower levels of THC.
Due to differences between the types of cannabis sold in legal and illegal markets, the authors have commissioned a team of experts who meet next week in Lisbon to develop a standardised tool for assessing cannabis use in international settings, funded by the Society for the Study of Addiction.
Abe Gray says Whakamana is 100% behind robust and transparent research, which includes identifying the amount of THC in each dose, so that people can be confident in the decisions they make with regards to their health.
“As we know, thousands of people are already using cannabis to manage a wide range of health issues so if and when the referendum gives legality to that, it’s important that everyone who chooses to use cannabis, makes that decision from an informed perspective,” he says.
Michael Mayell, social entrepreneur (Cookie Time, Nutrient Rescue) and hemp environmentalist (Drinkable Rivers) is teaming up with veteran cannabis educator Abe Gray to establish a cannabis social enterprise in two iconic central Christchurch heritage buildings.
Whakamana: the New Zealand Institute of Cannabis Education, Research and Development will be based in the historic Shands Emporium, the oldest commercial wooden building in Christchurch, and the historic Trinity Church. The buildings sit side by side on the corner of Worcester and Manchester Streets and have been restored by the Christchurch Historic Trust.
Whakamana will incorporate an interactive world class cannabis museum and education centre, a hemp food cafe and restaurant, an alcohol-free plant-medicine shot bar, a hemp emporium, and subject to the outcome of the 2020 cannabis referendum, a cannabis dispensary.
The facilities will be built once a $1 million PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign has been completed. Michael Mayell is excited by the venture and says “this will be a facility that Christchurch will be proud of, an avant-garde attraction for locals and tourists alike - cannabis tourism is on the rise."
Abe Gray, who originally established the Whakamana Cannabis Museum in Dunedin has no doubt the Christchurch venture will be a success. “The demand for cannabis education experiences is exploding globally as this industry expands exponentially and New Zealand is no exception,” says Gray.
Whakamana will also establish a Cannabis Education Centre of Excellence. This will provide the public with freely available, educational, fun experiences about Cannabis ‘plant–power’, and the medical profession with cutting edge research and accredited courses to advance their knowledge in the use of cannabis in medicine. As well as pioneering new uses for cannabis as a viable, sustainable food and fibre source.
Whakamana will be developed in two stages:
Stage One sees Whakamana leasing Shand’s for five months and creating a PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign seeking $1 million+ to transform the adjoining Trinity into a world class cannabis educational experience. That campaign is due to launch on November 11.
Stage Two will commence once the money has been raised, allowing the finishing of the Trinity building reinstatement, and opening of the hemp eatery, alcohol-free nightclub and plant-medicine shot bar, and a hemp emporium.
Whakamana’s social purpose is to improve lives and restore the planet through plant power, and the organisation's vision is to be the trusted source of cannabis education, research and development, to further that purpose.
Michael and Abe both expressed ‘immense gratitude’ to the Trustees of the Christchurch Historic Trust for the wonderful job they have done restoring these two Christchurch landmarks. “Shands Emporium and Trinity Church's history will be acknowledged and their new life as an Institute dedicated to Earth’s most versatile vegetable was a fitting next chapter for these 150 year old icons” they said.
Abe and Michael, who met at the inaugural iHemp Summit in Wellington last year, will be based in Shand’s for the next five months and will be hosting crowd funding information and cannabis educational evenings with a different focus each night.
For more information, the website is cannabisinstitute.ac.nz or check out facebook www.facebook.com/CannabisMuseum/ for details of the evening educational events.
Whakamana Museum Limited / The NZ Institute of Cannabis Education, Research and Development/ 217 Manchester and 124 Worcester Street, Christchurch, New Zealand
About Abe Gray
Abe Gray is a Botanist and Science Communicator with 20 years of experience in the Cannabis Industry. Originally from Minnesota, USA, he has lived most of his adult life in New Zealand where he gained his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Botany at the University of Otago in Dunedin. He combined his 20 years of experience as a cannabis legalisation activist with his 15 years of experience as a tutor and guest lecturer in Biology to found New Zealand’s first interactive cannabis educational experience, the Whakamana Cannabis Museum, in 2013. He is also the primary caregiver to his two children while his wife works as a surgeon. Abe lives in Christchurch and enjoys tramping, bike riding and bird-watching in his spare time.
About Michael Mayell;